The US Amateur Radio population once again grew by about 1%, based upon 2017 and 2018 year-end FCC database statistics provided by Joe Speroni, AH0A. The 755,430 total licensees represent nearly 7,300 more license holders than those that were in the database at the end of 2017. Nearly 51% of the Amateur Radio population in the US -- 384,145 -- hold a Technician license. Generals are second with 175,949, and Amateur Extras number 147,369. Advanced and Novice licensee populations continue to decline, with 39,607 Advanced and 8,360 Novices, as the FCC no longer issues Advanced or Novice licenses. A more significant statistic is 31,576 new FCC licenses last year, although that's 620 fewer than came aboard in 2017.
"New amateur licenses granted by FCC are down 2% over last year," noted ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, "but this is the fifth year in a row the total has been greater than 31,000. I predict that the number of new licensees will be more than 30,000 at the end of this year as well, and I'm optimistic this trend will continue."
Upgrades also are down slightly, compared to last year -- 9,456 in 2018 versus 9,576 in 2017, she added. "For the fifth year in a row, we have conducted more than 7,000 Amateur Radio exam sessions in a year -- an important milestone for the ARRL VEC," Somma recounted. "Our program continues to provide outstanding service to the ARRL, its members, and the entire Amateur Radio community."
ARRL VEC filed a total 30,393 license application forms last year, compared to 31,014 in 2017. That includes new, upgrade, modification, renewal, and club station filings. At 7,035 in 2018, the number of exam sessions conducted by ARRL VEC marginally trailed the 7,075 held in 2017. ARRL VEC served 34,493 exam applicants in 2018, compared to 35,352 in 2017. Exam elements administered by ARRL decreased from 47,152 last year to 45,817 this year, Somma said. Nearly 1,800 new Volunteer Examiners (VEs) have been added to the ARRL VEC program.